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Lifecycle underwriting describes an approach to considering the long-term financial viability of affordable multifamily rental housing. The full lifecycle costs of a property would go beyond initial development costs and include the necessary reserve deposits that would cover expected maintenance costs for the property's full useful lifecycle (for example, 50 years).

The concept was developed in connection with research comparing the costs of acquisition-rehab and new construction. (Disclosure: I worked on this research as part of a team at the Center for Housing Policy, Compass Group, and Summit Consulting.)

What do you think about the concept and our approach? Can we move toward 50-year affordability periods without undesirable side effects?

A paper laying out some initial questions about the policy & practical implications can be found here. If you want to try the approach on a property of your own, you can enter financials (privately) using L-Cycle.


Due to the large size of the webinar recording, we have divided the archived version into three parts. You can view them all on YouTube using the links below.

Part 1: The Lifecycle Underwriting Concept and a Tour of L-Cycle

Part 2: Research Findings & Implications for Policy and Practice

Part 3: Question and Answer Period

The presentation slides are also available for download below.

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Thank you for this research. So many observors have intuitively felt that the lack of attention to ownership and investment after 15-20 years breeds either disinvestment or displacement or both, and have called for exit policies. Now you have documented the need. One form of tenure--cooperatives--needs to be added to the study and analysis. Co-ops do not have the freedom of other landlords to sell the building after 15 years. They must take a 40-50 year viewpoint, and that invites a recommendation that co-ops should be a part of the policy solution in two ways-- 1) Encouragement of co-ops at the front end (one obstacle currently is no MAP for Section 213), and 2) incentivizing the option midstream for tenants to organize and buy the building from the landlord after 15-20 years. The latter was an active practice in the 70s, as well as a HUD property disposition strategy (Section 246?) still on the books, but ignored as HUD changed its default strategy and now sells the mortgage rather than foreclose and sell the building to the tenants. 

Thanks for chiming in, Doug. I am always interested in ways to blend proven practices and innovations to make sure that enough housing of all types and for all income levels is available -- and in a way that is sustainable and feasible in tight budgetary climates. Co-ops certainly have a roll to play.

Resources from the July 17 webinar on lifecycle underwriting are now available. See the links and attachments in the core post in this thread above.


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